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Vital Stats

Engine:
3.0L Biturbo I6
Power:
430 HP
Transmission:
6-Speed Manual
Drivetrain:
Rear-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,300 LBS (est.)
Seating:
2+3
Base Price:
$60K M3, $65K M4 (est.)
Getting Our Butts In The Seats



Both the non-M BMW 3 Series sedan and 4 Series coupe have so far brought much pleasure to us at Autoblog. The terrific four-cylinder 328i trim has become our favorite of the 3 Series line, while we have yet to get a chance at the 428i coupe. That said, the 35i trim powered by a 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline six-cylinder engine is not exactly to be sniffed at.

We all know the ones you're really waiting for, though. The F80 fifth-generation M3 sedan and the supremely sexy F82 M4 coupe. Rumors have been buzzing for a couple of years now that the engine would be another V8, only turbocharged this time, or else a tri-turbo six. Well, today BMW confirmed that the mill under the hood's power bulge is a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder TwinPower Turbo of the biturbo variety, referred to internally as "S55B30 variant."

We were brought to a small airfield outside of Munich, Germany recently to receive an almost complete tech breakdown, as well as get taxi drives through a forest of laid-out cones with BMW DTM champion drivers at the wheel of both the new M3 and M4 verification prototypes. Weather was thankfully perfect, so the rides we had were as good as it's going to get until we have at it firsthand after the cars officially debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January.
2015 BMW M4

Weight is contained down to old E46 (1999-2006) M3 levels.

The experts on hand tell us that weight is contained down to old E46 (1999-2006) M3 levels, so right around 3,300 pounds for the M4 coupe and just a little more for the M3 sedan. Aside from weight improvements, the overall chassis structure (as is the norm these days) will twist and bend less than its predecessors. Both models tested here wore standard 19-inch forged alloys with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires – 255/35 ZR19 92Y front and 275/35 ZR19 100Y rear – and optional Brembo-SGL carbon ceramic brake discs. The only measure we got on the optional brakes was 15.7 inches in front with four-pot calipers.

They did talk horsepower, though, and confirmed those official numbers today in a press release: 430 hp at 7,300 rpm and torque "well above 500 Newton meters (369 pound-feet)" between roughly 1,800 and 5,200 rpm. If the E90 and E92 (2006-2011) M3s could hit 60 mph in 3.9 seconds with their M-DCT automatic transmission and high-revving V8, the new F80 and F82 sedan and coupe will do at least equally well with this smaller but heavier breathing engine.



The stuff we learned while sitting in clinical white rooms staring at projection screens and whatnot was naturally pretty telling, and then the taxi drives put pay to most of it. Whereas on the standard cars the 4 Series coupe is wider in the back versus the 3 Series sedan, everything is essentially the same chassis-wise between the two M models.

Everything is essentially the same chassis-wise between the two M models.

We were noticing a tendency at this gathering with every expert from BMW M present, from president of M Friedrich Nitschke to product management boss Carsten Pries. That tendency was to say almost nothing at all specifically about the F80 M3 sedan and practically everything in reference to the F82 M4 coupe. We're not scooping anything here, but it was interesting to notice. We personally were led to think that perhaps the M3 is gradually being put in the background to let the sexier and more profitable image-leading M4 coupe, convertible and future Gran Coupe take the wider stage and handle all future racing efforts. It does seem inevitable, doesn't it? Go ahead and pout now; it's sort of the end of a long and very cool era.

By switching out the 4.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 in the outgoing M3 lineup for the latest 3.0-liter inline-six, the weight over the front axle has decreased about 25 pounds, and that weight is able to be supported slightly further back than was the case with the V8. Weight distribution is now 49.6 percent front and 50.4 percent rear, so pretty much square.



They are cars that – gasp! – perhaps anyone can drive well.

All three prototypes driven by BMW's three horribly fit DTM dudes were equipped with the all-new six-speed manual transmission, which replaces one that was actually already pretty good. But again, this was interesting to notice in that it led several present to believe that the M-DCT dual-clutch seven-speed transmission is simply less fun when it's time to really show how involving the M3 and M4 can be. Don't quote us, but it was a possible source of scuttlebutt.

As we were regaled with underbody details earlier by M tech development boss Albert Biermann, we were prepared to feel awesomeness on the track, particularly from the rear half of the cars. All units come with a newly developed locking rear differential that incorporates a new drift detection sensor. Once there is drift, the thing simply locks right up. The funny thing is that the drifting, even at points through the cones that screamed for it, seemed so sensible and controllable. We felt clearly that both cars have been developed to give us fewer yips, go around a lap faster and more efficiently, and gnaw at the pavement with no sense of graceful floating. They are cars that – gasp! – perhaps anyone can drive well. That gets so nervy to start talking about with sports icons like the Porsche 911, Lamborghini Gallardo and BMW M cars, but they're all doing it and it's smart business.



Things happen at lower revs on these new Ms versus their naturally aspirated V8 predecessors.

Both the M3 four-door and M4 coupe felt undeniably stuck to the pavement, even through slaloms that were taken aggressively at high speeds and with the cones set a little closer together than is the norm. Phase for phase, things happen at lower revs on these new Ms versus their naturally aspirated V8 predecessors, so this lends itself to more poise throughout the experience. The newly designed biturbo engine is attached right up against the exhaust manifold for exhaust-gas recirculation quickness and efficiency, while the intercooler is now atop the engine instead of in front of it, also for quicker delivery to the intakes of the coolest possible air. At lower revs, too, the turbos are kept spinning so that lag is essentially gone from the equation.

And that's what we were feeling. This new M3 and M4 feel a bit like they are constantly at the ready, sinews tensed, chassis scraping at the pavement instead of coasting over it. Whereas the previous M3 lineup has been at times characterized as feeling a little heavy with a little too much dance in it, these new cars are determined to help BMW take back some of its aggression in the midsize segments. The new tubular steel front and rear axle carriers are bolted straight to the chassis with no dense rubber bushings anymore, so we were feeling all of the energy thrust in the chassis as the tech folks had described.



Will the new six-speed manual be coming over to what is traditionally a great manual market for this level of sports car – the United States? BMW USA has said no a couple times, but today's information dump of specs doesn't rule it out. The latest M-DCT transmission is a nice piece of work, but this is the M3 and M4, and they would do nicely here with an available manual for that vocal percentage of buyers.

Deliveries start in spring of 2014 for both cars. They are so much alike in M format – versus the standard cars that have distinct differences – that we scratch our collective head a bit over the prospect of the M4 coupe and convertible being perhaps significantly more expensive even than what we postulate here in the Vital Stats versus the M3.

Other than those quandaries, let the planning for the inevitable intense head-to-head comparos begin.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 56 Comments
      Hybridnetics
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ok, this little ride along has renewed my lost hopes for the M3/M4. Just the description of the car "scraping" the asphalt and its tensed attitude ready to launch remind me of my E46 and that means this car is gonna be fantastic. Keep the manual and I'll park it next to my E46
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        A 130hp increase and 250lb weight loss typically silences a lot of complaints. Like they say in sports- winning takes care of a lot of problems.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          [blocked]
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          [blocked]
          PatrickH
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          130 hp what? This car has 18 hp more than it's predecessor. Helluva a lot more torque though.
      ChrisJC
      • 1 Year Ago
      Autoblog, please stop raising doubt about the US not getting a manual transmission. It's untrue and it's getting old. We are absolutely getting one. The new manual gearbox is actually almost 27 lbs lighter than the previous model, too. From the horses mouth... "BMW will continue to offer both a six-speed manual and a "wet" seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The ZF-supplied six-speed manual is 26.5 lbs lighter than the previously used box; the weight difference to the Getrag DCT is even more significant, and on top of that, the manual box doesn't need the oil cooler required by the automatic." Hell, here is an actual video with DTM driver Bruno Spengler driving the MANUAL, the camera even gets a shot of it! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7QZBQX0qk0#t=200
        Avinash Machado
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ChrisJC
        Hope they will correct the article.
          Matthew Davis
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Avinash Machado
          We're getting it eventually. I hear you and the others. I'm just reporting it to the extent that the BMW folk on either side of the ocean are reporting to me. These cars without the manual in NA would be like staring at your foot, getting a 'bright' idea, running to buy a gun, and then shooting your foot. Or something stupid and bad like that.
      shawoo
      • 1 Year Ago
      I must agree the e46 was an epic machine and BMW going back to its roots proves it. Not a fan of the turbos but hey they gotta make power somewhere for the HP ******.
      Snig
      • 1 Year Ago
      10%?? Where is that number coming from? You do know ~44% of all E9x M3s sold in the US had a manual transmission, right? USA Manual: 11325 USA DCT: 14,347 Final Production Numbers: http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=863649
      Jeff Crowell
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sounds like they did the lineage well.
      Jason
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wait - they're still doing the sedan?! YESSS!!!
      over9000
      • 1 Year Ago
      //M stands for More Money or I got More Money than you
      Lucky Stars
      • 1 Year Ago
      I am hoping that the Ford Mustang beats this in looks finally. Currently the mustang is a hick vehicle, lets hope the European redo makes it more fusion esque the retro wrong
      Black Dyanmite
      • 1 Year Ago
      1. Kudos for keeping the real manual transmission (I'm expect this to be the last go-round for a true manual.) 2. The power seems down. I was expecting everyone to have to bring 450HP to this class party. 3. It will be interesting to see how the Mercedes C63 and Lexus RCF respond. A new C-Class is a year away, and the C63 should follow one year later. I'm expecting more power than 430HP from Mercedes. Lexus RCF's motivation is already known: 8-speeds mated to a 5.0L V8 with 455 HP and 401 lb ft Expect the more powerful Lexus RCF to steal the M3/M4's thunder next fall (The RC350 will come out in the fall, and the RCF may be pushed back to the Spring of 2015. And NO, it won't cost $100k. About $65k.)..... http://www.motortrend.com/future/concept_vehicles/1308_the_all_new_lexus_rc_f/ BD
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Black Dyanmite
        [blocked]
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Black Dyanmite
        [blocked]
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Black Dyanmite
        Keep in mind that BMW rates their engines very conservatively, and a turbo engine has a lot more torque and power under the curve than an NA engine. Plus this is a seriously light car at 3300lbs. The IS350 is already overweight at 3700lb. Throw in the V8 and it is going to weight 3900lb. I know you are a Toyota fanboy, but you will just have to accept it that this M3 will mop the floor with the upcoming IS-F.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          [blocked]
          Black Dyanmite
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          Slow your ignorance! The F-Sport has already beaten the 335i three straight times in head-to-head comparisons. Smacked it around all summer! Maybe that's why BMW is working so hard to catch up? BD
          NamorF-Pro
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          We'll see who mops the floor with who... So far every spindle grilled car has beaten everyone in their class.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          [blocked]
          superchan7
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          Wow, an M3 will mop the floor with a car that doesn't exist yet. If this isn't a fanboy, I don't know what is.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          [blocked]
      protovici
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hmmmm too expensive for what it can do and quality issues. Nice car though.
        Doug Nash
        • 1 Year Ago
        @protovici
        What quality issues? We've had various M models over the last decade, and they've been incredibly trouble-free.
          mchica
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Doug Nash
          Patrick their Turbos are fine, it was the earlier HPFP that were problematic. Other companies are having the same problems, so could there be a trend?
          mchica
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Doug Nash
          BMW reliability has gotten a lot better since they stopped using GM Crapmatic trannies.
          PatrickH
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Doug Nash
          Last time I checked BMW's turbo reliability isn't exactly stellar.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Doug Nash
          [blocked]
        protovici
        • 1 Year Ago
        @protovici
        A few acquaintances of mine have had other luck as well as my experience at track days with these guys. Experience over opinions wins per the usual.
          Doug Nash
          • 1 Year Ago
          @protovici
          That's the point, if you want to opine that reliability is in doubt, then just post the journalistic references which support that trend.
          protovici
          • 1 Year Ago
          @protovici
          Doug, I can not supply a reference based on pure experience at different race tracks I have raced at. These things just cant handle much.
      Tourian
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yes but can it beat a Ford Mustang GT around a race track...
        Matthew Davis
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tourian
        For the time being, these M Bimmers destroy a Mustang anything around a good track. I root for the US muscle cars, though, and they're all getting better every year. Soon, they may kick German a** on a regular basis.
        kcroc10077
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tourian
        Just wait until the next GT shows up.
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